Skip to main content

Full text of "NightRider"

See other formats

green, narrow-leafed plants growing closely together in beds
that had been covered with canvas while the infinitesimal
seeds sprouted and took root. The beds lay on slopes exposed
to the south, or in places protected by woods. In them the
earth was new, and burned-over, and black. Those beds,
bounded by old boards and logs, contained the entire crop
for the coming season. A long stroke of the hoe could des-
troy a thousand pounds.

On one night forty-seven plant beds in three counties were
raided. The beds belonging to six men who had been par-
ticularly active in opposing the Association were completely
destroyed. Half of each of the remaining forty-one beds
was scraped. No warning notes had been sent, and no notes
were left. No notes were necessary. The implications were
plain enough. Within two weeks, eighteen of the forty-one
men whose plant beds had been only half-scraped joined the
Association. They did this quietly, without much comment
to their neighbours, although some of them had at first given
out public statements of defiance.

A sheriff and his deputies would go to the spot where the
plant bed had been. The scene was always tHe same, the dug-
up earth in the frame, the boards that had been jerked apart
with the shreds of canvas still clinging to them, the patch of
trodden ground with the marks of boot heels, and somewhere
in the vicinity the pawed spot where the horses had been
held. Once they found a dead dog lying in the bushes just
beyond the plant bed. It had been killed by a crushing blow
over the skull, probably when it had attacked one of the
raiders. The stick which had killed it lay there too, in the
bushes. A few coarse, yellow hairs from the dog's head were
stuck in the dried blood on the stick. " Took a right stout
man to do that," one of the deputies said, looking down a^
the dog. " One lick." That was all they could find.

A band would get its orders to go to a certain point at a
certain time, a crossroads, a church, an abandoned store, and
there it would pick up a guide, probably a man who was
unknown to the members of the band. He would give them